I'll never forget the summer I decided to wage war on the crop of thistles in our vegetable garden. I wasn't a real gardener back then; we just grew some vegetables every summer. Corn, green beans, carrots...the usual. Part of the garden was even left unplanted and that's where the thistles grew.
I knew enough about thistles to know that you'd better get the entire thistle out - tap root and all - or that nasty thing was going to grow right back, probably bigger and badder than it was in the first place. So, I got my trowel and set to work.
So intent was I on getting those nasty things out that I didn't realize what was happening as I plunged the trowel again and again into the hard clay soil, excavating each prickly plant out and tossing it onto a growing heap of them. Then all of a sudden, I stopped. I looked at the palm of my hand and there was the biggest blister I've ever had in my life, broken and bleeding. Silly me, I'd not worn gloves. The thistles had gotten the better of me and without even using their prickly defenses.
I want you to know, though - I never had a problem with thistles in the garden after that. I'm serious. But now...now I grow them on purpose. I'm serious about that, too.
|Cleveland Botanical Garden Herb Garden - May 2009|
|Milk thistle in CBG Herb Garden|
As I was window shopping online for seeds last winter, I came across those milk thistle seeds at Nature's Crossroads. I ordered them and planted them. They grew and I loved this plant as much in my garden as I did in CBG's. We've had some really cold temperatures and my milk thistle plants still look good. They're a biennial and not all the plants bloomed this year, but I collected enough seed heads to assure that I'll have seed for planting it again next year, just in case none of it returns.
|Globe thistle (Echinops ritro)|
I just think it's pretty.
|Milk thistle in my garden - October 2010|
Botanical name: Silybum marianum
Hardiness: Zone 5-9
Bloom time: Early summer to late fall
Other: Listed as a noxious weed in Arkansas. Self-seeds. Annual/biennial, depending on location.